by Cormac McCarthy
The Road Sections 231-240 Summary
How It All Goes Down
- They have lunch in the middle of the road: "the last of the canned ham with crackers and with mustard and applesauce" (231.1).
- They talk about how far they are from the coast, crows, spaceships, and flying to Mars.
- At dusk they cross a bridge. They stop for the night.
- The Boy asks what "long term goals" they have. It's kind of cute. The Man doesn't know the answer.
- The following day they see someone in the distance. The Man says they'll follow this guy carefully in case he's a decoy.
- They overtake the traveler. He thinks they're robbers. The guy smells really bad and looks worse than other stragglers they've seen. He seems harmless though. The Boy wants to help him.
- The Boy gives the old man a fruit tin. The old man eats it. The Boy wants to give him something else – some warm food. The Man begrudgingly agrees to stop for the night and feed the old man.
- The Man is really suspicious of the old man, but he invites him to eat with them.
- The old guy is a real firecracker. He tells them his name is Ely.
- The camp near the road and eat with Ely. Ely says all sorts of vaguely prophetic things like "[p]eople were always getting ready for tomorrow. I didn't believe in that" (237.13). He's both wise and matter-of-fact.
- Ely talks with The Man about how you wouldn't really know if you were the last person on earth.
- When The Man asks how Ely gets food, Ely says people give him things. The Man is still suspicious.
- Ely also says his real name isn't Ely, but he doesn't want to say what it is. (For the sake of convenience, we'll still call him "Ely.")
- Ely says that when he saw The Boy he thought he had died. He didn't think he'd ever see a child again.
- Ely talks about how at the end of the world Death will be out on the roads looking for people, but no one will be there.
- In the morning The Man gives Ely "[s]ome cans of vegetables and fruit" (238.1). It seems like The Boy wants to give him more.
- The Man says Ely should thank The Boy for the food, or at least wish them good luck. Ely doesn't do either.
- They leave Ely there, and The Boy doesn't look back.
- They eat lunch later that afternoon. The Boy and The Man still feel differently about Ely. The Boy thinks that when they're low on food he's still going to wish they did more for Ely.
- The Man wakes up coughing. It's a bad fit. He says to himself: "I am going to die" (240.1).
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